Louisiana ranks high in spread of COVID-19
BATON ROUGE – Governor John Bel Edwards is stating somewhat emphatically that Louisiana is nearing a Corona-crisis. He says the state now has the 3rd fastest-growing COVID-19 caseload in the United States and could get much worse before it gets better.
“What is essential now,” Edwards warned in a Tuesday press conference at GOHSEP, “is that we do our part to flatten out the curve to extend the duration of this event and not have it peak all at one time with people who are ill, presenting themselves to the hospital where we don’t have the capacity to render the care that they’re going to need. If we overwhelm the system, we are going to have less people survive that could have. We are running out of time.”
Edwards at this point is more fearful of what could be a massive influx of Coronavirus patients to hospitals perhaps as early as next week. Some estimates say the state will run out of hospital beds by that time.
He also laments that Louisiana may have inadvertently aided the spread of Coronavirus when over one million revelers flocked to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Doctors identified the first case of COVID-19 just 13 days later in Orleans Parish. Now the only states where the virus is spreading faster are in the much more populated states of New York, California and Washington State.
This is why the governor says he rushed to put in a federal disaster declaration on the state’s behalf.
“I am not diminishing the challenges being presented in any other state,” he told reporters, “whether it’s New York or New Jersey or Washington or any other state. I just don’t want anybody to minimize the challenges we have here in Louisiana. As I mentioned before, the trajectory we’re on is very problematic. The growth rate we’re seeing is very problematic. We are Number 3 in the country in terms of per-capita cases.”
Late Tuesday night, President Trump granted Governor Edwards’ disaster declaration, only the fourth in the nation to get federal disaster aid in stopping the Coronavirus. According to Louisiana Comm-issioner of Admin-istration Jay Dardenne, the state has already spent $71 million fighting the virus.
But five whole days passed while the Coronavirus became a Pandemic as both parties battled on Capitol Hill over the huge influx of money. Speaking on Fox News’ Sean Hannity Show, Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy blasted Democratic leadership for stonewalling.
“What Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer have done is breathtakingly irresponsible,” Kennedy said of the delay to get money in unrelated programs including climate initiatives. “We had the deal practically put together when Speaker Pelosi flew in with her left-of-Lenin bridge-to-nowhere proposals and Senator Schumer did not have the oranges to tell her to back off.”
Finally in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, the bill to head off economic disaster for the millions now at home and many out of work passed. Checks averaging $1,200 per adult and $500 for children could be in the mail as early as next week.
The Coronavirus Relief Package is the largest economic stimulus package in the history of the United States, with an eventual price tag of $2 trillion far beyond what the White House had recommended as Democrats and Republicans tacked on more programs. In one instance, where the President’s team had recommended a companion appropriations bill of $46 billion to get money to states, Congress ballooned the figure to $300 billion, more than all the federal funds spent for Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined.
Lawmakers had previously passed $8.3 billion in emergency funds to healthcare systems and $100 billion-plus to boost paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and to provide free coronavirus testing.
In the meantime, Edwards is pleading with citizens to simply stay home and call friends and family, and in runs to grocery stores, to not get any closer to another person than six-to-ten 6 to 10 feet. The governor is alarmed that Louisiana’s rate of infection is still skyrocketing, heading upwards toward 1,500 cases and 50 deaths, and is now the third highest infection rate per capita in the country.
Edwards sternly admonished, “Stay home, stop the spread, save lives. Behave today as if you already have the virus.”